I've read a lot about World War II, but I'd never fully grasped the complete destruction, the utter devastation of the city of Warsaw. Hitler was like a bratty child with a toy he'd rather destroy than share with anyone else. When he knew he was going to lose the war, he ordered that Warsaw be reduced to rubble. Among the ruins there was a Jewish musician named Wladyslaw Szpilman who had managed to survive for six years, and a German named Wilm Hosenfeld who saved Szpilman's life one last time.
I read this entire book in 24 hours. Szpilman wrote his account immediately after the war ended, so you can sometimes feel that sense of urgency, that need to pour everything out onto the page and purge himself so he could begin to recover and build a new life. He had a long career as a performer and composer, and died in 2000.
The book also includes some excerpts from the diary of Wilm Hosenfeld. He didn't personally kill or brutalize anyone during the war, but he never flinched from the collective responsibility of the German people for what they allowed Hitler to do to the world. It was later discovered that Hosenfeld had also helped other Jews during the war. I hope he did finally get his tree on the Avenue of the Just in Yad Vashem.